Swami Vivekananda said, ‘If you are because of what you did in the past, then your future is what you are now!’ While that statement clearly highlights the concept of karma, it means something more than that as well. It alludes to an amazing property of our minds, which is also referenced in many places in our scriptures. “We become what we meditate upon”. That is the secret of the mind.
When we think of problems, we become the problems. When we think of solutions to problems, we become solutions. Constantly thinking positively and being broadminded, humble and loving can make us acquire those qualities. That’s how we can use this ‘attaching’ power of the mind favorably to better ourselves. But being abstract, these qualities are hard to practice. So we must meditate on the embodiment of these attributes. When the object of concentration is a person or any living being for that matter, the transformation is even more dramatic, for along with the qualities, we also actually transform ourselves as the other person completely.
Jadabharata was reborn as a deer because he poured so much love and compassion to a young deer. Uddhava, the childhood friend and minister of Krishna actually looked very much like Krishna Himself as he was so much engrossed in Krishna smarana. But we don’t need to take scriptural references to understand this. We see it in our everyday lives. A loving married couple of 20 years often need not communicate anything verbally between one another. They have done so much ‘dhyana’ of the other person that they actually start talking, behaving and in some cases even looking like each other!
On the other hand, if we dislike someone for any reason and end up ‘concentrating’ on them a lot, then we not only absorb that detested quality, but we would actually become him in all other aspects too. Thus we must be careful, or we may end up as our own nemesis!
This trait of the mind is not limited to humans either. The ‘Bramara Keeta Nyaya’ mentioned in Vedantic sections of the scriptures talks about how a caterpillar ‘becomes’ a wasp by constantly thinking about it. Scientific studies show that a caterpillar painfully hosts the eggs of parasitic wasps in its body and helps them grow, constantly being haunted by fear of the foreign wasps within. Finally wasp nymphs emerge from the caterpillar’s body. One would think that the caterpillar would be too eager to revenge them for all the pain they have caused, but strangely, the caterpillar starts to behave like a wasp and starts protecting the very parasites by covering the wasp nymphs with more layers of cocoon and fights any attackers! It has actually lost its nature as a caterpillar and spends the remainder of its life as a ‘wasp’!
When ‘meditation’ is about someone, what matters is that ‘someone’ – the object. That was how Shishupala (hatred), Kamsa (fear), and the Gopikas (love) all attained the same end goal – Krishna, because the commonality in all of their passions was Krishna though each used a different means to the end.
At all times, let us only do the ‘dhyana’ of the right person, and of the right things, for otherwise, the mind will constantly indulge us in multiple transformations at the same time due to our varied worldly affinities, only to leave us more confused about who we really are and where we really want to go. And while at it, let us do ourselves a service by using love as our means of dhyana, for even if the object is God, isn’t love really a nicer way to get there than hate or fear? The mind doesn’t care, the heart does.
-Sriram Ramanujam, Houston, TX
Illustration: Sripriya Sarathy, Charlotte, NC